Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Bells of Waiting Advent Ring


Christmas
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
John Betjeman

6 comments:

Marie N. said...

You made me laugh out loud with the secret agent intimations!

I agree it is a shame that it takes such effort to separate Advent from Christmas. We are helped this year by the big stash of family movies I brought home from the library.

I don't have a Fred and Ginger boxed set, but Dad recently gave me his entire collection of Fred and Ginger movies on VHS. There are so many! I'm hoping we can get them converted to DVD eventually.

Blessed Advent to you.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Marie
AS far as I know his brief case contains only excel spreadsheets and his sandwiches. However, there may be secret compartments containing various weapons.

I love Christmas movies (I'm like a big kid). We tend to watch family movies or play games every Saturday. We call it family night, we take it in turns to choose a meal and a movie or game.

Enjoy your Fred and Ginger movies. I love 'em, I've got a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney boxset too (hey kids, let's put on a show!). Absolute bliss.

A blessed Advent to you too, my friend.

Sarah said...

Hope you have a lovely Advent too.

Does your hubby introduce himself to psychotic foreign plutocrats as: 'the name's Domum, Mr. Domum'?

I'm sure that Q has ensured that to the untrained eye the briefcase does just look like it contains sandwiches and excel spreadsheets, but really it's both a car, a bomb and an aeroplane.

Hugs.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Sarah
He addresses EVERYBODY like that...probably a big give-away. To be honest with you, I never tamper with a man's briefcase, I once found a week old sandwich box in the DH's...half eaten tuna sandwiches too...germ warfare.

Gumbo Lily said...

Ah, such a good poem.

Jody

MartininBroda said...

at least your blog has an impressive soundtrack!